Trabecular bone of precocials at birth; are they prepared to run for the wolf(f)?

B.M.C. Gorissen, C.F. Wolschrijn, A.A.M. van Vilsteren, B. van Rietbergen, P.R. van Weeren

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Bone is a dynamic tissue adapting to loading according to “Wolff's law of bone adaptation.” During very early life, however, such a mechanism may not be adequate enough to adapt to the dramatic change in environmental challenges in precocial species. Their neonates are required to stand and walk within hours after birth, in contrast to altricial animals that have much more time to adapt from the intrauterine environment to the outside world. In this study, trabecular bone parameters of the talus and sagittal ridge of the tibia from stillborn but full-term precocials (calves and foals) were analyzed by micro-CT imaging in order to identify possible anticipatory mechanisms to loading. Calculated average bone volume fraction in the Shetland pony (49–74%) was significantly higher compared to Warmblood foals (28–51%). Bovine trabecular bone was characterized by a low average bone volume fraction (22–28%), however, more directional anisotropy was found. It is concluded that anticipatory strategies in skeletal development exist in precocial species, which differ per species and are most likely related to anatomical differences in joint geometry and related loading patterns. The underlying regulatory mechanisms are still unknown, but they may be based on a genetic blueprint for the development of bone. More knowledge, both about a possible blueprint and its regulation, will be helpful in understanding developmental bone and joint diseases. J. Morphol. 277:948–956, 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)948-956
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Morpohology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • development
  • micro-CT
  • neonate
  • Wolff's law


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